Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A New Forest Fire Rages near Los Alamos in the Jemez Mountains~ Santa Fe National Forest

It is beginning to look like Armageddon out there! Our fire here in the local mountains (AKA the Pacheco fire) rages on, and now has surpassed 9,000 acres with only 10 % containment. The smoke plume reached all the way to Taos yesterday- 50 miles away! Due to the rugged terrain, extremely low humidity (4-8 % today) and gusty winds that still persist, the fire fighters have had a tough time of it. Per the NOOA weather website, we are experiencing "critical fire danger weather."  Yes, yes we are. This was apparent again when I left work this evening. A new fire has started in the Santa Fe National forest... this time in the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos. Here's the eery scene I saw tonight as I headed home.

Smoke Plume from the Jemez Fire

Wide Angle to show the Extent

Photo taken from Zia Rd- looking north east toward "our" mountains... the smoke from the two fires appear to be merging...

Close up of the smoke/fire burning in the Jemez Mountains

Our beautiful skies filling with smoke...

Look closely to the left- that little dot is actually a rather large plane~ shows scale. Click to enlarge on any of these for greater detail.
This fire (the Las Conchas,) started this afternoon and is already at 1,000 acres with zero percent containment. It is burning toward Bandolier National Monument (which has been evacuated, as has Cochiti Mesa & Las Conchas.) Los Alamos has not been evacuated yet, and according to press releases,  " the fire has not entered LANL property and all radioactive material is appropriately accounted for and protected. " Well, sheesh, let's hope so!
I hear there is also a new fire burning today in the Bosque, down near Socorro. Presently, it seems as if much of the state is on fire. Your good thoughts & wishes are appreciated as we pray for rain.

***Monday, 6 a.m. Update~
this fire has been spreading quickly... reports are up to 6,000 acres already, and the Los Alamos National Lab has been shut down.  Ours skies here in Santa Fe are quite smokey, and ash is settling on the ground.

*** Monday 4:45 p.m. Update~
I believe the morning internet update was behind schedule. by 10:30 a.m., I was hearing reports of 43,000 acres burned. Now, only 28 hours after the fire started, the latest info is close to 50,000 acres burned.  The city of Los Alamos is now on Mandatory Evacuations. It's a ferocious fire & quite unsettling. I try not to worry about the Los Alamos National Lab burning & sending hazardous material into the air, but I would be lying if I said it were not crossing my mind. It is, quite a bit actually. I read conflicting reports on the internet about possible dangers of this. I'll keep ya posted.

***Wednesday 12:00 Update~
69,555 Acres burned. 12 homes lost. EPA involved in air testing for possible radiation contaminants. Reports are conflicting in regards to potential hazards~

"Our facilities & nuclear material are protected & safe," Laboratory Director Dr. Charles McMillan told ABC News. We have heard this repeatedly, but some how it is not comforting.      
Officials initially denied there was any above ground nuclear waste, now they are telling the public that there are barrels of waste (namely plutonium) above ground, but that they are "safe." Former top security official tells otherwise:

"It contains approximately 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste," former top security official Glen Walp said. "It's not contained within a concrete, brick-and-mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume."

"Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas," he added.

For updates on the Las Conchas fire or for any fire info, the inciweb is a good resource~ usually updated twice a day:

As for the threat of potential hazards of air quality/radiation... let's just hope they can keep this raging fire from burning at Los Alamos National Lab- particularly in the "sensitive areas."

*** Friday 8:00 p.m. Update:
Per infrared data, the Las Conchas Fire has burned 103,842 acres... making it the largest wildfire in the history of New Mexico...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Santa Fe National Forest on Fire

Well, the one thing I was hoping wouldn't happen has. Our beloved forest caught fire yesterday. Of course I've been following the news on the fires in Arizona and experiencing some seriously smoky, unhealthy, turn-the-moon & sun red sort of days, as a result of wind patterns blowing it on over. Here in NM there have been fires raging in the Gila Wilderness in southern NM, Ruidoso, Clovis and more recently the fire in Raton, NM just a couple of hours north... I suppose I knew it was just a matter of time. Still I was hoping & hoping it wouldn't happen. I left my place yesterday afternoon, saw this scene & my heart sank.

View from Central Santa Fe
The fire was thought to be started in Pacheco Canyon, about 6 miles NE of Tesuque, just "down the hill" from the Santa Fe Ski Basin. It is currently burning in our National Forest, and heading into the Pecos Wilderness.

Wide view to show extent of the smoke plume.
 Below the huge plume of smoke are the beloved mountains/trails where I often hike. I am well aware of "fire science," and I know that forests actually need to burn sometimes to be healthy... but I am still so sad to watch the forest I love burn like this. 

A closer view from hwy 285 - photos taken near the Santa Fe Opera

Last night, the winds did die down, and I was hopeful the firefighters would be able to get a handle on it, though I did worry about resources being spread so thin across the state & in Arizona. (Those poor firefighters must be exhausted... likely going from fire to fire!) This morning it didn't look too terrible up on the hill. Unfortunately, when I left work this afternoon, the winds were gusting @ 30- 40 miles per hour... and this was the scene I saw from the parking lot as I left this evening.

The latest update online (I don't have a t.v.) was at 11:00 this morning... 900 acres burned with zero percent containment. As I write, our spring-turned-summer winds are still gusting at 30-40 miles per hour. It does not look good for our forest... and with no rain forecast, it doubly does not look good. Pray for the firefighters, out fighting the good fight...

( 9 p.m. update: 3,000 acres~ zero percent containment.)

(June 21st update: close to 5,000 acres~ 5% containment)

(June 26th update: over 9,000 acres~ 10% containment.)

Here's a great link for more info:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chaco Culture

Hi y'all. Just wanted to share a few pics of my recent visit to Chaco Culture. My family has been in town & we have been doing all the touristy things to do in Santa Fe... walk the plaza, go out for local cuisine, visit Taos, Chimayo, Tent Rocks & so forth. We had a really nice visit, & kept quite busy! After Mom & gram's left, my nephew stayed with me another 4 days and we embarked on a more strenuous routine- hiking high in the local mountains, & a long days drive out to Chaco to hike & explore. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. It was my second visit there, and I'll certainly visit again in the future- so much to see & experience,it is impossible to take it all in in one day! I took a ton of photos, but tried to narrow it down to just a few of my favorites to share.
(click on any photo for greater detail~ the top 2 are my faves.)

Exploring Chaco

Inside Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito

Kin Kletso

Hungo Pavi Wall

 Ruins at Chetro Ketl

Chetro Ketl 

My Nephew hiking above Kin Kletso Ruins

View of Pueblo Bonito (largest of the Chacoan "Great Houses") from the Alto Trail
Chaco is a most amazing place~ I wouldn't do it justice by trying tell you all about it,
so for lots of great info~ click on the National Park website here:
There are wonderful links on the history & people of Chaco Culture, and anything you may need to know about planning a visit.

(just a side note~ I was completely "blog-free" during my family's visit... and I have to admit, I found it quite refreshing! I'll still be posting here & there, but I imagine it will be a bit less with my now hectic work schedule & upcoming life events. though fun, blogging does tend to take up a fair amount of time, does it not? i'll still visit when I can, though likely not as often. wishing you all a wonderful summer!)